an open source architectural beadwork project from Kate McKinnon and a worldwide team of innovators

Peyote Powers

I now have less hate for adore peyote stitch after this weekend thanks to Teresa Sullivan’s Monster Mash and Jean Power’s Patented Peyote Triangles–dw

12 comments on “Peyote Powers

  1. beadsofcolour
    May 17, 2011

    thanks Jean. My journey was a little more direct. I wanted a triangle to work with. I said to Chris ” I want a triangle” and she sat down and figure out how we could do it. Than I started to play with the shape. We do them all in one piece. Increase , then the walls and decrease. I had already played with increasing and decreasing in even, uneven and random sections. I had learned from David Chat the magic number of under or over 6 increased. The square had come easily although we had the tell tale dip in the side. Once we discovered the triangle I was away to the races. Since then we have made vessels, spun them, varied size and shape even a amulet bag. We call triptich pocket. This one is Chris’s design. pretty cool. Extremely difficult to teach. We taught it once and it was successful. Although it was a small group of regulars.(the knew us and we knew them, really helped) When we taught triangles at Bead and Button we had 25 people and 6 didn’t speak english. Not a pretty sight. I agree that playing with a new concept is exciting. I also believe that the same thing can be worked on all over the world at the same time. It probably has something to do with 6 degrees of seperation. Really wish I was there. Looking forward to meeting someday. debi

  2. jeanpower
    May 16, 2011

    Don’t worry, I neither believe, nor claim, to have invented the beaded triangle.
    Who knows who was the first person to make one? How would you know?
    Gather around while I tell a tale…
    I first began beading in February 2001 and began with brick stitch. Within 6 months I had taught myself (with the help of Carol Wilcox Wells’ first book) peyote stitch and realised this was the stitch for me. I seemed to understand it and get it to produce what I wanted. Of course it’s not without its limitations but I love working within those.
    Back to the story, as soon as I learnt peyote stitch I tried to make my first self-designed project with it and aimed high. For some reason I chose to attempt a beaded, self-supported vase. I began at the bottom and increased outwards, keeping my work nice and flat and even.
    *DING* the first light-bulb went off in my head.
    Perhaps if I ‘regulated’ where I put my increases, my work would stop being round and instead I could make corners and create geometric shapes.
    As I pondered this discovery I continued beading my vase base and soon it was getting wider and wider which sounds good except that wasn’t what I wanted.
    I wanted sides but I couldn’t make the physical or mental switch to make them appear.
    *DING* the second light-bulb lit up.
    if I stopped increasing my work would stop getting wider and would change direction.
    Those two light-bulb moments, some time in 2001 (I know it was before Christmas as I had the idea of putting a beaded poinsetta in it) formed the basis of much of the work I have created ever since.
    Do I believe I invented the peyote beaded triangle? No
    But I do know for sure I ‘invented’ MY peyote beaded triangle just as everyone else who ever did some peyote stitch and increased and thought ‘huh, I can make a triangle that way’ ‘invented’ THEIR OWN triangle.

    Consider this…
    Just as ancient man discovered fire, do we really believe one person ‘invented’ it or did it just come about?
    Did that one person who first helped fire into existence spread their knowledge all over the world single-handedly?
    Even if you do believe they invented it, was there another man on the other side of the world, on a completely different tectonic plate living in isolation from the first, who also one day lit a fire with no knowledge of the first?
    Did the second man copy the first?
    Is his discovery any less amazing for him and his life?
    Any less relevant?
    Is the second fire any less warm or useful?

    Whilst I don’t know for sure, I am fairly certain that there were people beading peyote triangles long before I was. Surely there had to be. Beads, thread and corners all existed long before I was born so I don’t doubt that many times, all over the world and throughout history, they came together in unison to make peyote triangles.
    Does this make my work any less amazing to me?
    Any less relevant?
    Any less warm or useful?

    I have the following useless conclusions.
    I am extremely secure in my knowledge that I didn’t copy anyone and
    in the scheme of things I only care that I had that amazing life-changing beading moment and I wish one on everyone.

    Instead of worrying about who did what first, I would love to hear people talk of when they first realised those round beads could turn into sharp corners and change shape. If that wasn’t your life-changing beading moment then maybe something else was and you were the first person in your life to do something with beads – do tell

    • katemckinnon
      May 16, 2011

      What a great comment, I love reading about how it all came together for you. Most of the stuff I’ve come up with is the same process… I wonder what would happen if I did this…?
      I often find that I have invented things that other people have done before, but just me thinking it through on my own way has resulted in nuances in the work that I definitely think of as my own innovations. They probably aren’t.

      We were talking about this around the swing this afternoon, how little we care about who made what when. It’s so much of an easy way to be, so much less stress.

  3. beadsofcolour
    May 16, 2011

    Sounds like a great and interesting discussion. debi

    • katemckinnon
      May 16, 2011

      Jean is up! She says that she didn’t start beading until 2001, and sort of muddled along on her own, with no Internet and very little interest in Britain for anything beyond amulet bags. So she just worked out her own pattern. It would be cool to see how all of you diverge in your techniques. I hope to make one today, Jean-style, so I can show you when I see you again. Jean is hilarious. This silly post (Patented Triangles!) is just Dustin horsing around, not any real sense from Jean that she thought of anything.
      She is agog to make triangles with you and compare notes!
      You should have her teach at BOC, you would love each other.

  4. beadsofcolour
    May 16, 2011

    Haveing a wonderful time watching the beading going on this weekend. Just wanted to say that Chris Vandervlist and I started doing triangles and teaching them in 2004. We even taught them at Bead and Button in 2006, When we began doing them we didn’t see anything with triangles anywhere else and therefore considered it original.. I am not a computer person perse but Chris is a computer geek and she checked and didn’t find anything like it. . I find it interesting, that we seem to do it totaly different, and least by the pictures I am seeing. Wish I was there. We could really compare notes. debi

    • katemckinnon
      May 16, 2011

      Hi! The triangle is one of those ancient shapes that everyone has made over the millennia, to be sure. I’ve never made one, so I can’t speak to how you guys do it, how Phyllis does it, how Jean does it. It’s always dicey when people claim original work in a field as old as human history. I try not to do it but like you am always curious- has anyone done this before?
      Some people take things too far, of course. I’ve heard beaders who should know better claim authorship of the zigzag pattern and a two bead ladder. Ha! I wish I was kidding about that.

      When Jean wakes up, I’ll ask her when she made her first triangle piece. I know she would love to compare shape-notes with you. Dustin could be someone who is familiar with everyone’s styles, we can ask him about it too.

  5. manbeader
    May 15, 2011

    Posts like this really make happy for social media! Bead on.

  6. bs beads
    May 15, 2011

    I LOVE Jean’s triangles. I’m so glad she came up with them and spreads her inspiration all over the world

  7. gnomedeplum
    May 15, 2011

    True dat!

  8. beadoracle
    May 15, 2011


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